Paul Thomas on Track With Homages to O'Henry, Mary Shelley

PORN VALLEY—At a rough count, according to the Internet Movie Database, there have been at least two dozen attempts to tell the story (more or less) of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein and the monster he created. (Um ... you knew Frank was the doc and "The Monster" was the undead thing he sewed together out of fresh body parts, right?) The first was a 1910 silent from the Edison Manufacturing Company, which not only filmed the thing but also built the camera that shot it and the projectors that showed it. But certainly the most famous version is Universal Pictures' Frankenstein's Monster (later shortened to simply "Frankenstein") starring Boris Karloff. There was even a 3D version, Andy Warhol's Flesh For Frankenstein; a Japanese TV attempt, Kyofu densetsu: Kaiki! Furankenshutain; and, of course, Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein.

So are there any "Frankenstein" worlds left to conquer?

"I'm going to do Frankenstein," announced Paul Thomas for his company, Paul Thomas Presents. "I don't want to do The Munsters; I don't want to do a silly parody; I want to do Frankenstein."

"That's why I did Twilight Zone," he continued. "I was able to treat it in a serious way. Frankenstein is similar. Number one, it's not a parody. I'm doing Frankenstein; it's an homage. I've figured out a way to handle it in a very dark and very somber way, and that is the challenge when you're doing a classic subject and a purposeful story, especially something like Frankenstein. It easily gives itself over to ridiculous camp; easily. I promise it will not be ridiculous. The subject is essentially, inherently a very sexual thing, and I don't need to twist and turn it out of its original shape; in other words, to keep it sexual."

Hell, even Universal knew Frankenstein needed a “bride”—but, we asked, isn't it going to be tough "keeping it real" in a universe where the dead can be brought back to life with a little catgut, a Wimshurst machine and a Van de Graaff generator or two?

"To have an element of fright in an erotic film has also always been tricky," Thomas admitted. "But if you frighten people the right way, it can be very sexually arousing. My aim is to make it as dark and erotically meaningful as possible, and again, that's a huge challenge, but I've pulled that sort of thing off more than most. So just as I was able to tie up Jenna Jameson in The Masseuse and have hardcore sex when it was traditionally against the rules—you can break the rules if you couch it in a story that will support the behavior, so it's not just extreme sex for extreme sex's sake. Traditionally, you can cross the lines, and that's what I have done and I will be doing with Frankenstein."

But for a taste of what Thomas will be able to do with the world-famous literary classic, why not try Paul Thomas' Pervert, due to be released by Hustler Video on Oct. 31?

"I've also finished Pervert," he said. "It's in the can and is about to be released on Halloween. It stars a newcomer named Lily LaBeau, a 5 foot 9 inch 19-year-old in the blush of her youth, as well as Samantha Ryan and Eric Swiss and the quintessential pervert, Otto Bauer. And what I've done with this is, I'm trying to go into areas that are much more twisted and much darker than areas that I have gone to during most of my career. I just find it fun to treat it really seriously, to find the darkest edge to it and make it work as a motion picture."

"People who know me know that I'm one demented motherfucker," he continued, "and the trick, again, since you can't get too extreme on camera or the lawyers won't let me distribute it, what I've done in Pervert is, I've given you the impression there's all sorts of ungodly things going on, but if you look carefully, you'll see it falls well within the bounds of accepted propriety, but they're very dark, very twisted, very extreme."

"I think we all would like to raise the human spirit with our films and there are many ways to do that and still keep the film well within the bounds of the erotic genre," Thomas reflected. "I want to become the O'Henry of pornography. Pervert is a collection of short stories. I've always thought that the vignette form was the very best form of erotic entertainment. Vignettes don't have to be just sex. Vignettes can be truly a short story, a very well-developed short story strung together in an incredibly clever and creative way, so one can watch one story for a half an hour and turn it off. I've always held that just to arouse is not enough to hold an audience for two hours; we have the chance to make people laugh and cry as well as cum. This is what I have wanted to do for a long time. Even this title was something that came up in my years at Vivid but it didn't get done, so Pervert is now done, and then my next show is Frankenstein."

Thomas also shared some of his thoughts on what it takes to make a successful parody or homage.

"The trick with any of these, whether it's a parody or an homage, is to keep the elements of the original that were appealing," Thomas explained. "I was about to do The Wizard of Oz before Jeff Mullen said he was going to do it, and I said, 'Fine, you do it.' The trick there was to keep Dorothy, keep the Tin Man, not rewritten as inner-city youths like I was going to do it, because it would lose something. You've got to keep the Yellow Brick Road, you've got to keep the Emerald Forest, and certain other elements you've got to keep. And that's tricky, because for the most part, big-budget projects these days are not going to be as big budget as big budgets were when I did big budgets. You need to take the essential elements of the story that appeal to people and keep them and figure out what you can get rid of."

Frankly, we'd trust Paul Thomas to make classy eroticism out of Vladimir and Estragon waiting for their buddy on a park bench.